BETWEEN GOOD AND EVIL: The inorganic may be beneath good and evil but nothing organic is.  It is especially in man that the concepts of good and evil attain to their greatest clarity, that what is felt to be either the one or the other is given verbal definition and understood in the context to which it pertains.  Everything organic beneath man, from the higher animals to the lower forms of plant life, is also subject to varying degrees and kinds of good and evil, though their respective experiences are merely felt rather than defined as being specifically good or evil.  It is only with the inorganic, with the blind forces of wind, rain, hail, snow, heat, etc., that good and evil have no meaning, and therefore cease to apply.

     Hence a violent thunderstorm is no more evil in itself than a fine midsummer's day is inherently good.  A violent thunderstorm may be interpreted as evil by a dog that hides under the bed or by a man who runs for shelter somewhere other than under the branches of a tree, but it is only such in relation to the organic, especially to the higher forms of organic life.  And the same, of course, applies to a fine midsummer's day with a brilliantly clear sky and the sun shining down onto the bodies of holiday-makers enjoying themselves on a sandy beach.  They may interpret the favourable conditions as being good, but the fact remains that such conditions are only 'good' in relation to themselves as sentient beings.  For beneath the realm of the sentient, good and evil have no applicability.

     The good may be defined as that which accompanies or engenders positive feelings, thereby making one conscious of being happy or hopeful.  The evil, by contrast, as that which accompanies or engenders negative feelings, thereby making one conscious of being sad or fearful.  A fine midsummer's day may well engender positive feelings in one's mind in consequence of its favourable conditions and thereupon be interpreted as a good, a veritable blessing.  Thus anything that makes one feel either pleased with oneself or pleased with life in general comes within the realm of 'the good' by dint of the positivity it engenders.  However, in the case of a thunder storm it will be found that the noise of thunder, flashes of lightning, torrents of rain, bleak clouds, etc., engender negative feelings in one's mind and are thereupon instinctively interpreted as evil.  Anything that makes one's hair stand on end comes within the realm of 'the evil' by dint of the negativity it engenders, the worst experiences being those which engender the most negativity.

     If one had a scale for both positive and negative feelings ranging, for example, from 1-10 in each direction, one could ascertain the extent of 'the good' or of 'the evil' being experienced by simply taking note of one's feelings at the time.  We do not, of course, have an exact means of doing this, but if we remember that good and evil are inextricably bound-up with our feelings, then we can always acquire an approximate indication as to where we stand in relation to them at any given time.  The greatest good will be manifested in feelings of bliss, the greatest evil in feelings of sheer agony or dejection.  The degree of pleasure one experiences in any given context stands in direct proportion to the extent of 'the good', the degree of pain, by contrast, in direct proportion  to the extent of 'the evil'.

     It is foolish to pretend that one should live solely in 'the good', or that evil is something which should be eradicated from the world in the interests of life.  On the contrary, so long as there is life, good and evil must co-exist in its interests.  One cannot experience pleasure if one knows nothing of pain, one cannot live in 'the good' unless one is regularly accustomed to also living in 'the evil'.  Strange as it may seem, every time one experiences evil, i.e. negative feelings, whether engendered by a nightmare, thunderstorm, quarrel, fall, rebuff, cold, stomach ache, toothache, contempt, hatred, anger, worry, derision, etc., one is unconsciously earning one's subsequent good, i.e. positive feelings, whether engendered by a kiss, beautiful dream, glass of wine, pleasant walk, favourite music, pride, complacency, love, respect, admiration, etc.

     The interdependence of good and evil is indisputable and cannot be torn apart.  One can, of course, deceive oneself as much as one likes.  One can call one's evil experiences good and reject the theory that good and evil are inextricably bound-up with the nature of one's feelings.  But even then one will be as subject to their influences as anyone else and be unable to do anything to alter them.  The nightmares will continue regardless, and so, too, will the physical maladies which regularly beset one.  If life was entirely evil, we could condemn it.  But the fact that it is also given to good, which is ultimately dependent upon 'the evil' for its authenticity, its place in life, obliges us to accept life's overall logic for what it is, and thus resign ourselves to living it.  We may condemn life under pressure of unfavourable circumstances, but we are just as likely to extol it when circumstances become favourable.  That is the human condition, and that is what we have to face!

 

 

LONDON 1977 (Revised 1978-2012)